Inform says that Jeb Bush has become “the talk of the Internet” after tweeting out a photo of a gun with his name engraved on the slide. NBC reported last night that Bush got “roasted” for the photo. The pistol was a gift from FN America, a firearms manufacturer in South Carolina, but the tweet might be a public-relations gift in and of itself:
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 16, 2016
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush sent out a tweet Tuesday with a picture of a gun engraved with his name, accompanied with one word: “America.” And the Internet immediately pounced. Some chided the decision to equate the country’s turbulent history with firearms, while others took the opportunity to simply poke fun at Bush.
So why did he (or his campaign’s social media manager) do it? Well, it’s not entirely clear. NBC’s Jordan Frasier witnessed an exchange during which Bush was questioned about the now viral tweet.
The GOP candidate didn’t seem to be aware of the photo at first, but answered, “The purpose was we went to a gun manufacturing facility where lots of jobs are created — high wage jobs. And I received a job and I was honored to have it.”
The tweet did cause a consternation among plenty of people already opposed to gun rights, but … those aren’t the people Jeb Bush needs to reach. In fact, their reaction might be exactly what the campaign hoped to get as a way to remind GOP voters in the Palmetto State of his support for Second Amendment rights. And far from being “roasted” on Twitter, the tweet has over 20,000 retweets and almost as many likes since it first appeared at 4:27 pm ET yesterday. That doesn’t suggest widespread revulsion; it hints at much broader acceptance than some might want to acknowledge.
That’s not to say that this will suddenly push Bush to the front of the pack in South Carolina. The tweet itself certainly wouldn’t, but the reaction to the tweet might create a little rally-’round-the-candidate dynamic for a day or two. Sometimes winning a news cycle is the basic political building block. Even without that, though, the reaction to a candidate celebrating the Second Amendment in this manner is instructive, to say the least.
For now, Jeb says he’s in the primaries for the long haul:
This is what all candidates say, and most of them get out sooner rather than later. There are two contests in the next seven days for Republicans — South Carolina on Saturday, and Nevada on Tuesday. In most polling, Bush trails by wide margins in both. If he can’t muster double digits in South Carolina or Nevada, there seems to be very little reason to continue even to the March 1 “SEC primary” Super Tuesday.